Saturday, 20 July 2013

Nature Abhors A Vacuum

For the next four weeks, we'll be looking at nature to glean some enterprise and business management lessons. The theme for this week is: Nature Abhors A Vacuum. Enjoy reading

I don't know what's with babies and mobile phones; once they lay their hands on one they give it a wet and sticky licking and after ensuring that it contains no edible parts they go on to smack and hit it on any surface around them, even your feet won't be spared if they are close by. They won't go for your three-year old phones or the hand-me-downs; it's the expensive one you've bought to show off at work that they inflict this evil acts upon. Experience however teaches one not to collect the phone from them without replacing it with something you don't care if they shredded to pieces or drenched in spit as failure to do so will result in a piercing cry or, if the baby is like my nephew, it will just embark on a more destructive adventure like tugging at the television cables or doorway curtains. It's not only nature that abhors a vacuum, even babies' hands do.

We've all heard about employees who resigned out of frustration with their monotonous jobs or disdain for 'servitude' only to decide they were going to set up a business in sync with their passions and where they will be the 'lord of the manor'. I will tell you that except for those with large trust funds or rich spouses and the like, most people wake up the following Monday with a mixture of optimism and apprehension and as the days turn into weeks and the weeks add up to months, the pressures of setting up start-ups increases the apprehension and diminishes the optimism. Your courage might be saluted for sacking your employer and launching out on your own but from my experience I think that for someone accustomed (or should I say addicted) to a paycheck you need all the cushioning or padding you can get before taking a bungee jump into entrepreneurship. A smart option to the vacuum of regular paychecks and structure is to keep a job while you are working on setting up your own business.

It reminds me of a friend who filled with disgust each time he looked out his bedroom window and saw the neem tree behind his house swaying in the wind. Disgust each time the birds nesting in tree woke him early in the morning with their chirpy songs, disgust each time the squirrels ran along its branches, chasing nothing, disgust each time he had to rake the tiny yellow leaves lying around the roots and disgust when the sunlight failed to enter his room courtesy of the tree's long shadow. He was moved to tears the day the tree was finally sawn down, he even went out that evening to celebrate the demise of his nemesis and constant irritant. Now he could sleep peacefully and wake up to a bright morning as the dawning sun smiled on him.

What he didn't bargain for was what would replace the void! Now, he has to cut the weeds that were never growing behind his house when the tree was alive, he has to cope with bugs and mosquitoes that flourish in the weeds and what's more, when the morning sun gives way to the sweltering 1 o' clock version, his room which used to be cool throughout the day is now as hot as an oven.

"Working two jobs can be very exhausting", someone might counter but if I am asked to compare that to the stress of uncertainty that accompanies setting up a start-up, without alternative sources of income, I will advise going to bed dead tired than going to bed and being unable to sleep because of anxiety. If there is anything you will gain from my suggestion, it's that you will be forced to become a better time manager and smart prioritiser, qualities you badly need when you finally drop your resignation letter and solely face your business. I am not saying you will not succeed if you resign now and then start your business but why not do it the easier way.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, so while hunting for that exotic bird in the bush, you might want to put the bird-in-hand in a cage before setting out.

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